The last couple of years, a friend and I have made a short December trip to the German-speaking world for Christmas markets. In 2015 we hit Nuremberg, and in 2016 we hit Salzburg. This year, it was Stuttgart. I changed the dates for the trip (before airfare purchased) due to my favorite German-language band adding a Stuttgart date to its winter tour. We arrived on Saturday Dec 2 and departed early on Wednesday Dec 6.
It was a reasonably-inexpensive trip. Frequent airfare checks resulted in a round trip ticket on Delta from Greenville-Spartanburg (SC) to Stuttgart for $780 (purchased during a 24-hour fare sale in late August). Hotel was €90/night at the Motel One Hauptbahnhof (near the main train station), with that price including the chain’s very good German breakfast buffet. For those who don’t know Motel One, it’s a German chain that provides small, spotless, inexpensive rooms with a stylish flare and is aimed primarily at business travelers. We were very pleased with our stay there. We reserved our rooms sometime in late July/early August.
We hit the big 3 Christmas markets in the area – Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg, and Esslingen. We also took a couple of very-reasonably-priced private walking tours with Sarah of Stuttgart Steps – one covered Stuttgart’s city center and the other covered Esslingen. We were pleased with the tours.
Saturday, Dec 2 – We arrived in Stuttgart at about 9 am and were at the hotel dropping off luggage by 10 am. We wandered the Stuttgart Christmas market for a bit before meeting up with Sarah for our 2-hour tour of the Stuttgart city center. The sprawling Stuttgart market has a big city feel that is enhanced by the modern buildings and sleek shopping district that surrounds it. It was starting to get busy by noon; when we returned to the market that evening at around 7 pm, the crowd made for very slow movement, but it was the first weekend of the market. Jet-lagged, we decide to head back to the hotel, grab a hot chocolate in the lobby, and go to bed early. Dinner was at Dilgelay, an excellent kebab joint within walking distance of the city center that makes a great Döner, including a very good vegetarian offering for my vegetarian friend.
Sunday, December 3 – We slept late, ate a late breakfast at the hotel, and then headed out to Ludwigsburg. The Christmas market was a short walk from the train station and had more of a smalltown feel. It’s described as a Baroque market, playing off the Baroque palace in town. Snow (along with a street band playing “Let It Snow” at the perimeter of the market) made the Christmas mood complete here. It was a great day. We stayed until dark (which was about 5 pm) and then headed back to the Stuttgart market, where the snow continued and the ambiance was lovely. We ate dinner in the Stuttgart market – the Schupfnudeln (think gnocchi with sauerkraut and bacon/ham mixed in) was surprisingly wonderful.
Monday, December 4 – We spent a little more time at the Stuttgart market and then headed to the Stuttgart Stadtbibliothek (library), a modern, 8-story building that is white by day but glows red and blue at night. The inside was worth seeing – it’s the whitest library ever! Sadly, the roof terrace was closed. Dinner was at Lausterer, a small restaurant in the city center with great ambience, a server who did not speak English, and a lot of German customers, but pretty marginal food. I watched my Maultaschen get microwaved, along with my dessert. Monday night was also concert night. (Continued below)